Coast Guard sets port condition Whiskey for Florida Ports

National Hurricane Center graphic

National Hurricane Center graphic

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard Captains of the Port have set port condition Whiskey for the Ports of Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee, and Ft. Myers and their associated facilities, due to the expectation of Tropical Storm Laura generating sustained gale force winds within 72 hours.

The ports remain open to commercial traffic. Transfer operations may continue during Port Condition Whiskey.

Mariners are reminded there are no safe havens in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. In preparation for the approaching tropical storm, all oceangoing commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the port. Any vessels that cannot depart are required to submit a heavy weather plan to Sector St. Petersburg via email at WWMTampa@uscg.mil and receive permission. Proof of facility owner/operator approval is required.

Vessels bound for any of these ports, which would be unable to depart if weather conditions worsen are advised to seek an alternate destination as these ports may be closed to inbound traffic. Drawbridges may be locked down as early as eight hours prior to the anticipated arrival of sustained gale force winds or when an evacuation is in progress. During lock-down, the bridge is closed, power is turned off, traffic arms may be removed, the control house is secured and the bridge operator is sent to safety.

The Coast Guard advises the public of these important safety messages:

Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be taken out of the water, and stored in a place not prone to flooding. Those leaving their boats in the water should remove their EPIRBs and secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.

Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by storms. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.

Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared with a family plan, a disaster supply kit, by having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s webpage:

Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

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